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The Biden administration released a report on Friday stating that Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law, but specific airstrikes were difficult to link conclusively to these violations due to wartime conditions. While the administration acknowledges that Israel has the capability to minimize harm to civilians, the high civilian casualties in Gaza raise questions about the effectiveness of these efforts. International human rights groups and experts have pointed to several Israeli airstrikes that violated the laws of war and humanitarian law, including attacks on aid convoys, hospitals, schools, and other protected sites.

The report comes after months of conflict in Gaza that have resulted in nearly 35,000 Palestinian casualties, mostly women and children. Despite calls for accountability, Israel maintains that its actions are in accordance with U.S. and international law, and that its campaign against Hamas is proportionate to the threat it faces. Some in Congress, including Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, argue that the report feeds politically-motivated anti-Israel sentiment and should not have been done. On the other hand, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen criticizes the administration for not taking stronger action against clear Israeli blocks on food and aid deliveries during the conflict.

President Biden has been navigating a delicate balance in his support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza. There have been calls from both Democrats and Republicans for measures to restrict military aid to Israel, with concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. While the administration recently paused a shipment of bombs to Israel out of concern for the situation in Rafah, the report itself does not trigger any cutoff of arms to Israel. Critics argue that the administration’s verdict on Israel’s actions during the conflict may not be enough to pressure Biden to change his support for Israel.

Human rights groups have long accused Israeli security forces of committing abuses against Palestinians, and have called for accountability from Israeli leaders. The U.N. court previously ordered Israel to prevent death, destruction, and acts of genocide in Gaza, but stopped short of ending the military offensive. The Biden administration has signaled that it may consider cutting military aid to Israel if its handling of the conflict and humanitarian aid does not improve. Previous U.S. presidents have used the withholding of military support as a means to push Israel to change its actions towards Palestinians in the region.

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